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Love and fear brought these Tri-Cities residents to join a national movement

Luke Hallowell, left, and Jazmin Santacruz-Hallowell rally with other protesters Saturday at John Dam Plaza in Richland. The protest was against federal policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border.
Luke Hallowell, left, and Jazmin Santacruz-Hallowell rally with other protesters Saturday at John Dam Plaza in Richland. The protest was against federal policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border. Tri-City Herald

A phone call Ana Ruiz Peralta of Pasco got Saturday afternoon summed up much of the fear she said is in the immigrant communities.

"An aunt, her nephew was crying because his parents went to work and they didn't know if they were going to come back home," she said. "This was only one kid, but that's what is happening to all of our kids."

Peralta was one of about 200 people who brought signs and space blankets to Richland's John Dam Plaza seeking an end to the cause of that fear — a federal policy separating children from their parents at the border.

They were joined by more than 50 people stood along the side of Highway 395 in Kennewick, hundreds in Walla Walla and Yakima, and thousands nationwide.

Peralta, one of the organizers for the Family Unity March and Rally, wanted children detained in immigration facilities returned to their families.

The roughly 2,300 children were caught up as a result of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy.

Several people called for a return of civility.

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More than 200 people walked during a Saturday protest that started in John Dam Plaza in Richland. Protesters walked about a mile and a half holding signs and chanting against a federal policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

Mina Payson carried a modified version of the poem the Statue of Liberty features. Payson's version said supporters of the separation policy wanted a country for rich, white people, and excluded everyone else.

The retired Pasco teacher said she's known smart, talented children who have not been able to achieve their dreams because they were undocumented immigrants.

"It's just wasted minds," she said. "I would like to see something positive done and I would like to see more kindness in the country."

She said she sees anger and hate, and it's making the country unrecognizable to her.

For the Rev. Doak Mansfield, the policy was a moral issue. The pastor of Kennewick's Community Unitarian Universalist Church led the group along Highway 395 in a Saturday morning demonstration.

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More than 50 members of Kennewick's Community Unitarian Universalist Church and other Tri-Citians gather Saturday along Highway 395 near Kennewick Avenue to protest federal policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

"Families should not be separated," he said. "They're just trying to get into this country like my ancestors did. There has got to be a more humane way to do this."

He said he believes many of the people coming to the country are simply looking to provide better lives for their families.

Arrhinnon Kirkpatrick had a simple solution. On a silver mylar sign, she wrote children need their parents — not space blankets.

"Families belong together," she said. "We need to do something to recognize that we are all immigrants in this country. My grandparents came from Eastern Europe, and if they could have been stopped I would not be here."

Cameron Probert: 509-582-1402; Twitter: @cameroncprobert
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